App review: Do

I guess we all know how frustrating it can be to have to sit in meetings that just feel like a waste of time or that could have been dealt with in 30 minutes (instead of 3 hours). I know that there are quite a few apps out there which help us to run more productive meetings, but I decided to focus on Do:

  1. How did this app come to my attention? – I got an alert from Product Hunt about Tools for Product Managers, promising me a list of “the tools the pros use”. Do was only ranked 10th on this list, but I guess it was this comment from one of the Product Hunt voters, that intrigued me the most: “I was a Yammer PM. is the meetings platform I wished I had.” Especially given that it came from a guy who used to be at Yammer – who are all about collaboration within the enterprise – this comment made me want to find out more about the product.
  2. My quick summary of the app (before using it)  Do helps you to have more productive meetings; I therefore expected a tool which helps its users to make their meetings as efficient as possible. The tool doesn’t yet seem to be available on iOS or Android, only on PC.
  3. Getting started, what’s the sign-up process like?  I have to sign up to use Do. At present, Do only seems to support Google users; all non Google users will be notified as soon as they will be able to sign up (see Fig. 1 below). Once I’ve selected my Google account, I get presented with a permissions screen (see Fig. 2 below). I click “Accept” and my personal dashboard appears. All fairly straightforward.
  4. How does the app explain itself in the first minute? – The default page of my dashboard shows a simple timeline with meetings on the relevant dates and times (see an example in Fig. 3 below). To be honest, I felt a bit underwhelmed at first , thinking “is this it!?”. However, the subsequent overlay which consisted of six ‘how to’ screens was quite useful, explaining in a simple but effective way how to best get started on Do (see Fig. 4 below).
  5. How easy to use was the app? – Using the tool felt very intuitive and easy. The layout of the dashboard is clear and easy to understand. Adding a new meeting to the dashboard felt no different to doing the same thing in Google or Outlook (see Fig. 5 below).
  6. How did I feel while exploring the app? – Like I mentioned above, exploring Do felt incredibly easy and intuitive. The signposting used in the tool is self-explanatory and the navigation options have been kept to a minimum. A quick click-through on an individual agenda item highlighted a key purpose of Do; the ability to create and share a meeting outline, making it easy to collaborate around meeting goals and agenda items (see Fig. 6 below).
  7. Did the app deliver on my expectations? – Yes, it did. I felt a bit underwhelmed at first, expecting Do to provide more, ‘less obvious’ features. However, whilst playing with the application, I discovered features like “Invite” and “Takeaways”, which I believe are missing from most standard diary / meeting applications.
  8. How long did I spend using the app?  A few days to start with, but I expect to be using it a lot more in the future!
  9. How does this app compare to similar apps? – I had a quick look at MeetingHero which serves a similar customer proposition to Do. At a first glance, MeetingHero seems a bit less advanced and intuitive in comparison to Do. MeetingHero is, however, available as an app on iOS which means that the app can be used on the go.

Main learning point: Do is a straightforward and easy to use meeting app. I like its interface and its key features; the app makes collaborating around meetings very easy. It will be interesting to see how Do will perform in already crowded marketplace, with apps and systems that enable similar things. I’m now curious to see what the mobile version of the application will look like!

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of Do’s sign-up screen

Do 1


Fig. 2 – Screenshot of Do’s permission screen


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Fig. 3 – Screenshot of sample meeting in my meeting calendar in Do

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 Fig. 4 – Screenshot of one of the introductory ‘How to’ screens on Do

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Fig. 5 – Screenshot of functionality in Do to create a meeting 

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Fig. 6 – The ability  to share a meeting goal and agenda items

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Twitch and its appeal for Google and Microsoft

The other day, I heard about the rumoured takeover of Twitch by Google for the handsome amount of $1 billion. I have to be honest; up until that point I had never heard about Twitch. Reason enough to look into Twitch and a possible ratio for Google willing to spend such a large amount of cash on this startup:

  1. What is Twitch? – Twitch is a video streaming platform and a community for gamers. Geekwire describes Twitch as “the ESPN of the video game industry” and says Twitch is a leader in that space. Twitch has over 45 million monthly users and about 1 million members who upload videos each month. In a relatively short space of time (Twitch was launched in June 2011), Twitch has successfully created an online streaming platform for video games.
  2. Who use Twitch? – I’m not an avid video gamer myself, but browsing the Twitch website tells me that are in effect two main user roles, which are closely intertwined: game players and broadcasters. Clearly, you can be both and I’m sure that a lot of Twitch members fulfil both roles. One can play games on Twitch channels like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or World of Tanks or one can create their own pages from which you can broadcast games. A great example of Twitch’s success in engaging its community around a game is TwitchPlaysPokemon which has had over 78,000 people playing a game that turns chat comments into controller inputs, parsing hundreds of thousands of ups, downs, and starts and translating them into in-game movements.
  3. Why is Twitch such an interesting acquisition target? – Twitch is reported to have snubbed Microsoft’s takeover offer but is rumoured to have fallen for Google. This raises the question as to what makes Twitch such an interesting takeover target? I think that the answer can be split into two main factors. Firstly, scale. Twitch has a rapidly growing and very engaged user community who all share a passion for (video) gaming. Secondly, live broadcasting. Going back to the example of TwitchPlaysPokemon, Twitch streams games that get people excited and gets them participating in real-time. This simultaneous element is something that for instance YouTube is lacking. YouTube is great for on-demand video content, but (currently) less so for live event coverage or participation. The combination of both factors (as well as a very rich vein of user generated content and data) makes Twitch an extremely interesting target indeed.

Main learning point: Recently there have been some major takeover deals in the digital industry – think Instagram, WhatsApp and Beats – but the rumoured acquisition of Twitch by Google is interesting for a number of reasons. If I have to highlight one key reason, then synergy is the main aspect that makes this potential takeover sound like a very exciting one. How will Google potentially integrate YouTube and Twitch or at least find a way to combine both platforms? Will the acquisition of Twitch help YouTube in cracking the real-time broadcast element of its offering? Lets wait and see if the deal actually gets done in the first place, but if it does then I will definitely keep an eye out for any future developments involving Google, YouTube and Twitch.

Related links for further learning:



Some considerations regarding data-driven design

Whilst slightly struggling with identifying the most effective measurements for my own product I’m nevertheless learning lots of new things about when (not) to use data in developing products. I’ve been learning more about data-driven product design and some of the key things to consider when using data to inform your product decisions:

  1. Measuring events – What are the key events that we would like to track, and why? This is likely to vary per team or stakeholder. For instance, the number of events that Sales are most interested in is likely to be much smaller than the events that I, as a Product Manager, want to track (see Fig. 1 below). I guess the main thing is here that you pick the appropriate events to measure and set clear goals as to how you would like these events to perform. A good example is Wooga, a German games company, where the product team have a number of KPIs and metrics that they’re looking to deliver on. Each week they’ll pick a KPI e.g. retention and will look at all the activities they can design and measure to increase the chosen KPI. Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz have introduced the notion of  the “One Metric That Matters” in this respect, urging businesses to focus on a single metric that will really impact their business.
  2. Retention vs customer engagement – I like to distinguish between customer engagement and customer retention. Often they tend to get lumped together, but in my mind retention is all about if and how often people revisit your site or application. For instance, I find it helpful to do a cohort analysis to compare the number of users that signed up during specific time periods and their revisit rates. These figures should be a good reflection of site performance over time, and the idea being that revisit rates will go up as you continue to improve the site (blogger Andrew Chen has written a great blog post about this). With customer engagement, I tend to be much more interested in metrics such as click-through rates, conversions or discussions around content. Such metrics give a better insight into the extent which users engage with content or a service.
  3. Limitations of A/B and multivariate testing – I’m a big fan of testing multiple versions of a design, whether it’s just to compare two design versions (A/B) or to compare multiple variations of different design elements (multivariate testing). Again, the main challenge here is to ensure you’re testing the right things. You can potentially test a thousand different variables and combinations per web page or application, so I believe it’s critical to start off with the right business questions and to be disciplined about the things that you want to test (see Fig. 2 below).
  4. Data isn’t everything – Whether the data you generate is quantitative or qualitative (or both), I strongly believe that data doesn’t replace product vision or intuition. Data provides a very useful perspective when making a decision, but it shouldn’t be the only factor you’re considering. I know that a lot of my peers disagree with this view, but I’ve identified some constraints over time when it comes to relying on data (see Fig. 3 below). Essentially, I believe that data provide a very valuable lens to look at product performance but data can never be a substitute for ‘going out of the building’ (and talking to customers or competitors) or gut feeling. Data can help in validating intuition or initial assumptions but you’ll need to start somewhere!
  5. Who are you measuring? – I’m learning more about user segmentation and how this can be reflected in the specific things you measure. I found the “See-Think-Do” framework by analytics guru Avinash Kaushik (see Fig. 4 below) very helpful in this respect. It helps to think about specific metrics to measure in relation to specific groups of users. I always find it very helpful to look at analytics within the context of user cohorts, just to get a better perspective.

Main learning point: data can provide a great framework for making business or product decisions. There are numerous professionals and companies out there who make decisions solely based on data. Data are objective and tangible. However, the pitfalls of solely relaying on user data shouldn’t be underestimated in my view.

Firstly, one can easily end up measuring the wrong thing or getting an incomplete picture. Secondly, one can become paralyzed by data, not trusting your product vision and becoming very driven by the users that you have (and not necessarily the users that you want).

If anything, I’ve realised again the importance of establishing a product vision, goals and assumptions first, before you even start contemplating which metrics to measure!

Fig. 1 – Examples of event types that I tend to track

  • Registration landing

  • Registration completion

  • Products entered in based

  • Proceed to checkout

  • Account creation

  • Page view

  • Click-through on search results

  • Documents created

  • Document shared

  • Post created

  • Post updated

  • Post shared

  • Comment created

  • Purchase

  • Visits by a specif group of visitors

Fig. 2 – Things I’ve learned so far about A/B and multivariate testing

What is it that you want to test?

I’ve learned to be very specific about the business questions that I want answers on:

  • I want to improve the conversion rate of the basket checkout process by 5%

  • The aim is to get a 1,000 people to respond to the call to action in the email campaign

  • To see if the number of duration of time spent on a page drops if we introduce page ads

  • To create a shift from “spectators” to “participators”

  • To increase employee productivity from 2% to 5%

  • To convert the current 200 “inactive users” to “active users”, by having them complete at least one activity per month

What does success look like?

This is where I look at Key Performance Indicators and the related metrics to measure and test with:

  • “We know that the new landing page of our site or app is successful if we can reduce the bounce rate by 10%”

  • “We know that the new sign-up process is successful if we manage to increase the sign-up rate by 10% in the first week after launch of the new, simplified sign-up process”

  • “We know that the new “share an update” button is more effective if we see a 5% growth in month-on-month number of status updates shared.”

  • “We know that our user engagement is improving when the user who created a group are still creating groups in March”

Being disciplined about goals and picking the right variables

I’ve learned to try and stick one goal per page to test. Otherwise there’s a risk of things getting messy, making it hard to measure things and – most importantly – to get any meaningful outcomes for your testing in the first place.

Picking the right variables is another key thing. Which elements tend to cause the most friction (e.g. forms, sign-up, page length and process steps)? Which elements are key in achieving your goals? Also, make sure you don’t waste too much time on trivial elements such as text or headlines, because in the context of the key goals that you’re trying to achieve they’re likely to have less of an impact.

Fig. 3 – Some constraints when it comes to relying on data 

  1. Data provides an insight into the ‘what’ but not necessarily into the ‘why’ or ‘how’ – Particularly quantitative data can be great when it comes to monitoring incremental change but is quite limited in providing real customer insight or show which new features create a breakthrough change. I therefore believe that data always needs to be augmented by other perspectives such as user feedback, competitor analysis, etc.
  2. You still need creativity, strategy and intuition (1) – I’ve seen the risk of people thinking that their analytics data were the holy grail, succumbing to ‘analysis paralysis’ or becoming risk adverse, being unable to make decisions without any available data. One could argue that this isn’t necessarily the fault of data but that of the decision making process around it. My point is that data is one – important- source of information to base a product decision on, but it shouldn’t be your sole perspective. For instance, there might be internal business or technical aspects that need to be considered.
  3. You still need creativity, strategy and intuition (2) – Also, customer monitoring can be very reactive, in a sense that you’re following your customers through their experience and optimise accordingly. However, you might want to drive to a specific strategy or have a new product (the relevant metrics to measure might only emerge over time). Ultimately, you will need to be creative or take a leap of faith to get the results that you want.

Fig. 4 – The “See-Think-Do: Measurement Strategy” framework by Avinash Kaushik

Related links for further learning:


Facebook Graph – Can it really take on Google?

With the amount of data that Facebook has on its users and their activities, I guess it came as no surprise when they recently launched Facebook Graph.

One of the first questions raised was whether Facebook is now looking to take on Google when it comes to search. In essence, Facebook Graph generates a variety of results (e.g. people, places, interests, etc.) all based on the social data available through your network on Facebook.

An obvious first comparison would be with Google+ and it triggered to me think a bit more about what Facebook Graph entails and how it compares to Google+:

  1. Facebook uses the data it’s already got – I thought this post on Fast Company explains Facebook Graph pretty well: “Graph Search leverages Facebook’s social data to pinpoint any combination of people, places, photos and interests. It is designed to field queries such as “photos of my best friend and my mom” or “friends of friends who like my favorite band and live in Palo Alto” or “Indian restaurants in Palo Alto that friends from India like.” In essence, all Facebook Graph does is using the social data it already has. In contrast, the launch of Google+ signified a venture into a fairly new area for Google, with it having to build a new social platform almost from the ground up.
  2. Facebook Graph has its (search) limitations – It was interesting that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that “We wouldn’t suggest people come and do web searches on Facebook, that’s not the intent” at the launch of Facebook Graph. Indeed, Graph is no Google when it comes to web search; searches on Graph are limited to data that are either public or visible to you. Also, as the aforementioned Fast Company article points out; if one of your friends has wrongly labelled a certain picture it’s just a case of tough luck with Facebook Graph.
  3. Different algorithms – Whereas Google’s search algorithms are predominantly based on keywords and links, Facebook Graph takes into social data around “likes” and “check-ins”. Consequently, the search results that Graph returns are likely to be a lot more personalised and authentic than Google’s. As I mentioned under point 1. above, Facebook has an almost endless amount of social data at its disposal which Google will struggle to compete with. Unlike Google, Facebook Graph enables users to search by using combined phrases such as “My friends who like cycling and have recently been to France.”

Main learning point: the main question I asked myself after having done this brief comparison of Facebook Graph and Google (Plus) was: “is it really fair to compare the two?” Google has clearly established itself as a very reliable web search platform, whilst Facebook Graph is clearly concentrating on “social search”. Having said that, I can see Google+ eventually suffering from Facebook Graph, mostly due to Facebook’s head start when it comes to social data. Facebook Graph, however, is currently only available in beta and it might not hit the dizzying heights that Facebook has hit. Facebook users might not sign up to Zuckerberg’s grand ‘one stop shop’ vision and prefer to search through Google …

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How cool is Google’s Project Glass?

At present, “Project Glass” is just a work in progress but Google assured its audience at last week’s I/O Conference that this augmented reality device will eventually be offered to the masses (how many of those masses ill actually be able to buy the device is another matter – a pre-order developer unit costs $1,500).

I guess the main thing to know about Project Glass is that it enables people wearing the glasses to search information, voice record messages, watch online videos, read text messages and post photos online without having to worry about fumbling with a handheld device.

With the device only scheduled to go on general sale in 2014, Google’s main aim at this stage is to receive as much developer feedback as possible. For example, a simple but obvious way for Google to get input on its latest project is through a dedicated post on Google+. Whatever you make of augmented reality, it is fair to say that this is a truly innovative device by Google and one that holds a lot of promise:

  1. Changing the way how we communicate – Think hands-free text messages, truly one-to-one tutorials and video conferencing that suddenly has become a whole lot easier.
  2. Access to and organising information – It will be interesting to see how ‘practical’ Google’s Project Glass will turn out to be, but I can imagine that the biggest draw of the device will be instant information access. From looking at some of the demo videos, it looks like the data overlays will not take up one’s entire field of vision but will instead appear in one’s peripheral vision. This will make the information present and instant enough for a user to access and organise.
  3. Posting and sharing will become even easier and quicker – With this new device the way in which we take pictures is likely to change dramatically. With the device stuck to your glasses, the opportunities for one to take pictures will increase significantly. Similarly, I can imagine it will become much easier to then post and share these pictures within one’s social network.

Main learning point: even though “Project Glass” is currently only in its prototype stage, it looks like a very cool and innovative device. The question remains how interactive and easy-to-use the actual consumer version will be. Like with all innovations, it is probably safe to expect something that will be very pricey, buggy and not super easy to use at first. It will be interesting to see if Project Glass or at it least its understanding technology will eventually turn into something that is here to stay.

Related links for further learning:;8n

The main reasons behind Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility

On Monday, Google announced that it had acquired Motorola Mobility, the handset development arm of the telecommunications company for a price of $12.5 billion (£7.5 billion). Google was quick to assure the public that Motorola will be run as a separate division to Android. One of the main drivers of the success of Android is the open nature of its platform, which will not be affected by this acquisition and which will continue to serve as the sole operating system for all of Motorola’s smartphones. Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and CEO, commented on the acquisition that “together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers everywhere.”

I’ve spent a bit of time trying to get a better understanding of the main reasons for this deal and the key benefits expected by Google. This is a brief summary of the main things I found:

  1. Patents! (part 1) – Motorola has a portfolio of 17,000 patents which Google will now be able to license to other Android users like HTC and Sony. In addition, Motorola has 7,500 pending patents. This newly acquired patent portfolio could help Google in significantly expanding (and protecting) the capabilities of its Android platform.
  2. Patents! (part 2) – Probably the most vital reason for this acquisition is the protection Motorola’s patent portfolio should offer Android against future legal action from the likes of Apple and Microsoft. Android has already been subjected to a multibillion dollar lawsuit by Oracle and is facing ‘indirect’ legal challenges through the complaints brought by Apple against Android device makers including HTC and Samsung. Having an extensive patent portfolio in place should help to better protect Android in future.
  3. New commercial channels to explore – Google will also gain a new and valuable channel into users’ living rooms through Motorola Mobility’s profitable set-top box business, which makes receivers for cable TV operators.
  4. Vertical integration – In an attempt to learn from the best (i.e. Apple) this acquisition is also meant as a way to integrate vertically, with Google hoping to “supercharge” its future Android releases through seamlessly merging its hardware and software.
Main learning point: out of all the key reasons for the Motorola acquisition that I learned about, I feel that “patent” is the magic word here. Given that Android as a business is still in its infancy (it’s only been around for three years) it has to play catch-up when it comes to patent protection. Earlier this year, Google lost out to its direct competitors RIM and Apple in an auction of valuable Nortel patents and patent applications. Had it won this auction, it would have been like getting access to the holy grail for Google. With this recent acquisition of Motorola Mobile, Google is hoping to be better armed in the ‘intellectual property war’ that seems to have been sparked by its direct competitors.


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Square is making mobile payments even easier

Square is one of those new inventions that I look at and think: “that’s a cool looking new feature!”. More importantly, Square looks like it will take mobile payments to the next level. A few months ago I learned about wallet-less payments with the likes of Google and Orange enabling users to pay using their mobiles without having to get their credit cards out.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has now launched Square which is a simple swipe device that you can hook up to an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or an Android phone to pay with your credit or debit card on the spot. The whole idea behind Square is that you no longer need fancy authorisation machines or complex transactions to carry out credit card payments.

I can imagine Square to be a particularly welcome device for small businesses or ‘one-man bands’ (think of selling your old bicycle or teaching maths to A-level students). These are the other things I learned about Square:

  1. The underlying business model is simple – For each transaction, Square charges you 2.75 percent of the total, plus 15 Dollar cents, which is a probably quite a bit cheaper and simpler than most merchant accounts.
  2. The technology is simple but clever – After the card has been swiped the customer signs the phone’s touch screen with a finger. You can tap in the customer’s e-mail address if you like; the receipt is then sent automatically, complete with a little map showing exactly where the transaction took place.
  3. The reporting functionality sounds neat – The transaction authorization process is straightforward and then you get a nice little report: your phone connects to Square, authorises the purchase, sends the receipt by e-mail and logs the transaction on your personal Square Web page. On this page you will be able to see a report showing your income for the day.

Main learning point: I’m not surprised that Square was listed as one of the 50 best inventions of 2010 by TIME Magazine. Innovations like Square’s swipe device which are very easy-to-use and serve a very clear (user centric) purpose are the ones that are most likely to transform how we use our mobile phones and how we do business.

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